Biography


Nitin Sawhney is one of the most distinctive and versatile musical voices alive today. Firmly established as a world-class producer, songwriter, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, orchestral composer and cultural pioneer, Sawhney has become a latter-day Renaissance man in the worlds of music, film, videogames, dance and theatre.


Overview – Sawhney’s output as a musician is astonishing. He has scored for and performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras, and collaborated with and written for the likes of Paul McCartney, Sting, The London Symphony Orchestra, A.R. Rahman, Brian Eno, Sinead O’Connor, Anoushka Shankar, Jeff Beck, Shakira, Will Young, Taio Cruz, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Ellie Goulding, Asa, Horace Andy, Cirque Du Soleil, Akram Khan, Mira Nair, Nelson Mandela and John Hurt. Performing extensively around the world, he has achieved an international reputation across every possible creative medium. Often appearing as Artist in Residence, curator or Musical Director at international festivals, Sawhney works tirelessly for musical education, acting as patron of the British Government’s Access-to-music programme and the East London Film festival as well as acting as a judge for The Ivor Novello Awards, BAFTA, BIFA and the PRS foundation. He is a recipient of 4 honorary doctorates from British universities, is a fellow of LIPA and the Southbank University, an Associate of Sadler’s Wells, sits on the board for London’s Somerset House and in 2007 turned down an OBE for ethical reasons.

 

Studio Albums – Now signed to Universal Music Publishing Ltd., Sawhney has released 9 studio albums, each garnering critical acclaim. Indeed, Sawhney has received no less than 17 major national awards for his album work alone. In 1999 Sawhney released his fourth breakthrough Gold selling album, Beyond Skin, on London’s Outcaste Records, which took a prestigious Technics Mercury Music Prize nomination and won Sawhney the coveted South Bank Show Award. After a subsequent signing to Richard Branson’s V2 Records, Sawhney released the millennial epic and Silver certified Prophesy in 2001, winning a MOBO Award as well as a BBC Radio 3 Music Award. Sawhney’s seventh album, Philtre, was released in May 2005, taking yet another BBC Radio 3 Award and in 2008, his eighth album, London Undersound, released on Cooking Vinyl, featured artwork by Antony Gormley and performances from Paul McCartney, Anoushka Shankar,, Imogen Heap and Natty, amongst many others. Sawhney’s latest 2011 studio album, Last Days of Meaning, previewed at the Royal Albert Hall in May 2011, centres on a stunning performance from legendary actor, John Hurt, and follows the epic, metaphorical, Dickensian journey of a lonely and intransigent man.


Film and Television – To date, Sawhney has scored over forty films as well as a plethora of international TV programmes, ads and cinema trailers. Signed to prestigious London agency, Hothouse, he has scored everything from dark, high-tension drama to light hearted animatronics. Most recently he scored all 8 episodes of the BBC’s landmark series, now BAFTA nominated, The Human Planet for the National Orchestra of Wales, which will be broadcast across 44 countries internationally and has already received huge critical acclaim after it’s primetime broadcast in the UK.  In 2004, his music for Channel 4’s Second Generation saw him nominated for the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Film and TV Composition and his subsequent film catalogue includes work from Mira Nair’s internationally acclaimed The Namesake to his recent project for the London Symphony Orchestra, Hitchcock’s The Lodger. Sawhney also scored Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s book Midnight’s Children. Sawhney has scored ad campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent, Nike and Sephora and Trailer scores include Hollywood release The Men who Stare at Goats.

Videogames – Over the last 5 years, Sawhney has worked extensively with Cambridge based games developers, Ninja Theory, on their international best-selling and groundbreaking titles, Heavenly Sword, Pigsy and Enslaved, with the latter receiving an Ivor Novello nomination for Nitin’s orchestral score with the Prague Philharmonic. As sole composer for these games, Sawhney has evolved an entirely new range of technical skills for the cutting edge world of motion capture videogame narrative.


Live – An acclaimed flamenco guitarist and classical/ jazz pianist, Sawhney’s musical ability to transcend cultural barriers has gained him much recognition from the classical and pop communities, leading to his unique claim to broadcasting and selling out as artist in his own right for both the BBC Traditional and Electric Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall and Roundhouse respectively. His band has toured the world for decades and Sawhney has performed and scored in recent years with international orchestras to silent films, most notably Franz Osten’s A Throw of Dice and Naruse’s Yogoto No Yume with the LSO. Nitin conducted the Singapore Festival Orchestra in May 2011 and performed at Toronto’s Luminato festival with his band in June this year. He also performed with his band in November at London’s Union Chapel, showcasing new tracks from the forthcoming album Last Days of Meaning which was released 19th September 2011.


DJ – Sawhney, given his classical background, is a surprisingly experienced and established DJ, spinning everything from Afro-beat and Dubstep to Asian breakbeat and drum ‘n’ bass. Cutting his Dj-ing teeth at London’s tastemaking Fabric nightclub, Sawhney has Dj-ed at the Big Chill, Womad, Womadelaide and across the world at numerous major festivals. Clubland has seen 3 international DJ album releases by Sawhney; All Mixed Up – The definitive remix collection; Fabriclive 15 and In the Mind of… Nitin Sawhney.


Theatre and Dance – Sawhney’s substantial theatre/dance credits include the scores for Complicite’s Olivier Award winning A Disappearing Number and Akram Khan’s also Olivier award winning Zero Degrees for which Nitin received a New York Performance and Dance Award for best score. After scoring Bahok for the Royal Ballet of China, Sawhney’s latest composition for Khan’s Vertical Road received this year’s best new work Award in Melbourne. Sawhney recently wordked again with Belgian Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui on a production based on the life of Manga creator, Tezuka.


Special score commissions – Include Neural Circuits for the Britten Symphonia, Entanglement for The Royal Opera House, Urban Prophecies for the BBC Proms, Natural World Symphony for the BBC, Varekai for Cirque Du Soleil, a pipe organ commission for the Royal Albert Hall and Hitchcock’s The Lodger for Network and the BFI.


Acting, writing, directing and commentating – Sawhney’s acting credits include the Award winning Radio and BBC TV series, Goodness Gracious Me, for which he received a Sony award as performer and writer, Meera Syal’s Radio 4 mini-series, Masala FM and Confluence with Akram Khan. As a fledgling theatrical director his work to date includes Confluence for Sadler’s Wells and directing/ writing workshops at London’s National Theatre for his play, Trust, along with his forthcoming production Einstein Tagore, due for performance in 2013. He has also written articles for UK broadsheets and appeared as a commentator on BBC’s Newsnight Review, Newsnight and Hard Talk.